A bit of explanation is due. Some folks might already know I'm not a proponent of alcohol stoves. I'm not militant or anything about it, I even own a couple, and like any good piece of gear they have their pluses and minuses. There are times when they are essential and times when they are not. I just don't see them as being essential in as many places and applications as other folks do. This post is part of the research and work I'm doing to choose gear for a 120 mile through hike of the Lone Star Hiking Trail. I'm allowing a week on the trail without resupply.
About this time last year I wrote a post at HammockForums.net comparing my JetBoil stove to a Cheapo Chinese Pocket Rocket. The stoves are available on Ebay and Amazon over a wide range of prices. I've seen them going for anywhere from a couple of bucks to over twenty.
As a result of that comparison, I sold my Jet Boil stove and kept the extra Jet Boil cup to use with the Cheapo. Then I sold the cup as it wasn't working out with the cookset I was building at the time. Both the 10 and 12 cm IMUSA cups were working well with the cookset as my primary specification was that a fuel canister for the stove would fit in it. I also got a weight advantage as the IMUSA cups weighed about half as much as the Jetboil cup.
The Old Cookset With A Couple Of Extras
But I got to missing the speed with which the Jetboil cup could boil water. The results of that comparison showed that its the cup that works the magic, not the stove. But since it didn't work as a carrier for all of my kitchen items, I resisted the temptation to get another. Then I read about the OliCamp in a post at Section Hiker (I'm not going to load this report with a bunch of pictures, those on the Section Hiker post do the job better than I can). It seemed like it might be just the thing, but at +/-$30 plus shipping, I wasn't interested in another experiment, especially if it failed. Then Millergear offered one in the For Sale Section for about half that price and I jumped on it like a chicken on a june bug.
When I got it, I liked it right away. Its the same diameter as the 12 cm IMUS, but a bit taller. I could fit all three sizes of isobutane/propane canisters currently available in it and still have room for the spork, canister stand, stove, and wash up stiff inside, and because it has a handle I could leave the pot grabber behind. The cozy for the outside of the IMUSA cup fit on it on the outside, and if I use the small sized canister I can fit the cozy I used on the outside of my cookset inside the pot, so I lose the weight of the coffee can. It comes with its own cover, too. But my heart sank a bit when I wieghed it and it came out at 6.5 ounces where the IMUSA was at 3.3.
Wanting to give it a chance, I did a test boil. Now, the best boil I got out of my Jetboil was a bit over three minutes, and the best I've gotten using the IMUSA cup was right around 4, or a shade under. This thing brought two cups of water to a boil at around 2:45. I was impressed. So I set out to perform another test, one a bit more meaningful to me. I wanted to see how many boils I could get out of one small canister.
I started out trying to see how many boils I could get out of the IMUSA, too, but I'll have to admit that a couple of times I got distracted on the internet while waiting the nearly four minutes it was taking, so I stopped because it got to the point where it wasn't going to be a fair test. That only happened once with the Olicamp. It boiled water so fast that I hardly had time to get interested in something else before it started chugging out steam. If anything else, this is the pot for the ADD crowd.
Anyway, I sat down every night and boiled two cups of water to make chamomile tea with before I went to bed (Shut up. I've been doing that since my Grandmother started me on it when I was a kid). How many nights did it take? I put a hash mark on the canister every time it boiled. Here's the result:
That's 22 boils. I figure I can get 23 or 24 on the trail when I'm paying attention and shut it off as soon as steam comes out the port instead of waiting for a full rolling boil. The best I can remember getting out of the IMUSA was 16.
The complete coffee can cookset with a full canister of fuel weighs 22 ounces. I was surprised to find that with the items left out and a bit of tweaking, I got the same thing into the Olicamp at 22.6.
21 ounces of HEET weighs 23.10 ounces, not counting multiple containers or the cookset.
What this means to me is that the Olicamp's place is for long distance trips, especially if resupply might be difficult or spotty.
Figuring on two hot meals a day:
I can reliably count on going 7 days carrying the IMUSA set up.
I can reliably count on going 11 days carrying the Olicamp with approximately the same weight.
I can reliably count on going 10 days with HEET as a fuel, but the fuel alone weighs more than the system that allows me 11 days.
The only option above for three hot meals a day for a week is the Olicamp.
I'm figuring that on the 120 mile hike, I'll be seven days on the trail. I'm taking the Olicamp. I can do it with essentially the same weight as both the IMUSA set and the Alky Stove, but I can have two hot meals a day and still have that chamomile tea before bedtime.